Trump Approves Russian Kentucky Plant
Do Trump devotees need solid proof that President Trump and many in the Republican party do collude with Russian interests in nefarious ways? Do they need proof that Trump has an affinity for Putin and Russia for his own personal gain?
Welcome to Ashland, Kentucky
This sweetheart deal between the Trump administration and Russia's Rusal, a manufacturing company, is astonishing in many ways. Despite trump's mantra about "Making America Great Again", Trump approved of last year's quiet business deal where Rusal (Russia Aluminum) would own 40% of Braidy Atlas, a U.S. manufacturing firm. This new facility will be built in Ashland, Kentucky and create 600 jobs and provide the state with $2.8 billion in revenue. This comes at a time with Briggs and Straton is closing there plant. Okay, this part seems legitimate until one looks deeper.
Into the Abyss
First, Kentucky is the home state of Republican leader, McConnell. This Senate Majority Leader, used his influence and power to defeat a House measure to continue with sanctions on Rusal. Rusal and other Russian companies were under U.S. sanctions until McConnell rallied enough votes in the Senate to lift them for Rusal. This was in January, 2019. Three months later, Rusal announces a partnership with Braidy. These Russian sanctions targeted many oligarchs close to Putin and designed to punish Putin for subverting democracies.
The oddity is that the bank providing the funding for Rusal's investment in the US facitlity is VTB Bank. VTB is directly linked to Putin and was going to fund the Trump Tower in Moscow when explored back in 2014 or so. This bank is STILL under U.S. sanctions for its cooperation in the Crimea 2014, when Russia annexed it while it was part of the Ukraine. Rusal also had been sanctioned for its ties to the Kremlin and Putin. So, when the Treasury Department reversed its decision in December 2018 on Rusal's sanction after McConnell had met with them, questions were raised. Then, a month later, the Senate votes to lift them on Rusal only, suspicions rose.
Many lawmakers are now concerned that Putin, with ties to Rusal, could somehow take over ownership of the facility and harm the U.S. economy in some way.
Keep in mind that many coal mines in Kentucky have closed and unemployment is high. Are the jobs worth having Russian investments in the U.S.? It was McConnell, with Trump's approval of the deal, that shows how corruption and collusion works within the U.S. government.